Christopher Woodruff, 30 April 2020

Low-income countries lack the resources to replicate European-style income support programmes to alleviate the economic impact of COVID-19 lockdowns. In Bangladesh, a key challenge will be to support export-oriented production in the ready-made garment sector, which employs 4 million workers. Whether factories retain or lay off workers in response to government policies – and whether the health crisis escalates into a humanitarian crisis or not – depends crucially on decisions of foreign apparel buyers to honour or drop commitments to previously agreed orders.

Alvaro Espitia, Nadia Rocha, Michele Ruta, 09 April 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly a concern for developing countries. This column shows that most developing countries rely heavily on imports to meet their needs of medical supplies essential to combat COVID-19. Recently imposed export restrictions by leading producing countries could thus cause significant disruptions in supplies for developing countries and might further contribute to price increases of medical supplies. Taking multiplier effects into account, prices for medical supplies are estimated to rise by up to 23% on average. Tariffs and other restrictions to imports further impair the flow of critical products to developing countries.

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Matthieu Bussière, Pauline Wibaux, 16 August 2018

Recent events on the international stage have reignited the debate on trade and currency wars. This column compares two forms of non-cooperative policies – import tariffs and currency devaluations – within a single framework. The results show that tariffs and devaluations do not have equivalent effects on trade flows. A 1% depreciation of the importer's currency reduces imports by around 0.5% in current dollars, whereas an increase in import tariffs by 1 percentage point reduces imports by around 1.4%.

Chad Bown, 08 March 2018

President Trump’s announced intention to impose import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium touched off a wave of retaliation threats and trade policy responses from trading partners, including the EU. This column examines the scope for retaliation against the Trump administration’s proposed tariffs under WTO dispute settlement. It estimates that if the sources of all US steel and aluminium imports were part of this dispute, trading partners would be permitted to retaliate by a collective amount of $14.2 billion per year.

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